Water is essential for birds and while a simple bird bath can provide refreshment, more elaborate arrangements like bird bath fountains have many benefits and can attract more birds to any birder's backyard.
About Bird Bath Fountains
A bird bath fountain is more than a simple basin filled with water – it includes a pump that circulates the water into a flowing or splashing arrangement. The pump may be solar, electric or battery operated, and the flow capacity can vary from a simple spray or dribble to a much larger, more vigorous flow.
The overall capacities, depths, sizes, shapes and materials for bird bath fountains vary greatly, but the most common and popular designs include:
- Tiered basins with smaller basins flowing or dribbling into a deeper bottom basin from several spouts.
- A small spray or bubbler in the center of a single basin.
- Cascades of rocks, jars or pots in a staircase arrangement of gradually increasing sizes.
- One or more spigots on the sides of the basin that spray toward the center.
- Wall-mounted tiered designs that lack pedestals but offer the same flowing features.
- Weeping styles where a small bubbler at the top flows over a rock or other textured surface into a lower basin.
In addition to different styles of fountains, there is great variety in aesthetic looks. Geometric designs are popular, as are natural accents such as small sculptures or carvings of butterflies, flowers, birds, frogs, turtles, dragonflies and other creatures that might enjoy the water.
When selecting a fountain, opt for a design that matches well with the theme or overall look of your backyard or garden so it blends well with the landscape.
Pros and Cons of Fountains
No bird bath is perfect, and because fountains can require more upkeep than a simple concrete bird bath or other basic basin, backyard birders should carefully consider the pros and cons of these designs before investing in a fountain.
The pros of bird bath fountains include…
- Sounds: Splashing sounds attract a greater number of bird species, and the soft flow of water can be aesthetically pleasing for enjoying one's garden.
- Cleanliness: Recirculating water stays cleaner without the opportunity for algae buildup as quickly, and moving water is less likely to harbor mosquitoes or other insects.
- Size: With multiple tiers or larger space, the bath can accommodate a greater number of birds and larger bird species without needing constant refills.
The cons of fountains include…
- Evaporation: Moving water will evaporate more quickly and if the basin is not kept filled, the pump could be damaged or will not work as efficiently if the water level is too low.
- Price: Because of the pump mechanism, bird bath fountains are typically more expensive than simpler models, and both battery and electric models require some minimal cost to operate.
- Seasonal Use: To protect delicate pumps and piping, fountains are not able to be used outdoors in areas with winter freezes, though they can be used year-round in very mild climates.
Where to Buy Bird Bath Fountains
While most garden centers or bird supply stores will have a limited selection of fountains suitable for bird bath use, a greater variety of sizes and designs can be found online.
Retailers offering bird bath fountains include:
The price of fountains ranges from $100 to $500 (USD) and higher depending on the fountain's size, style, materials and intricacy. Since fountains can be very heavy, be sure to include shipping costs to determine the total price, and investigate warranty and guarantee offers that may be necessary if the fountain does not function correctly.
Caring for a Fountain
A bird bath fountain can be easy to care for if the proper steps are taken to keep it functioning well. Before using the fountain, read all instructions carefully, and install the fountain as recommended on a level, sturdy surface where it is not likely to be bumped or tipped. Avoid placing the fountain near a bird feeder where the pump could be more easily clogged with discarded seed hulls or other debris, and use a small net (the same as used to catch fish in a fish tank) to regularly skim trash out of the fountain between cleanings to keep it working more smoothly.
Discontinue fountain use long before freezing weather, and be sure it is fully drained and dry before storing it for the winter so no cracks or other damage occurs. To keep the pump working at its peak, check the water level daily and add more water as needed to replace what is lost to splashing, evaporation and bird use.
A bird bath fountain can be a delightful addition to any bird garden, and the gentle splashing of water will not only attract more thirsty and curious birds, but will add more relaxation to any birder's backyard.
Photo – Fountain © lovecatz